By Bob Difley
Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer. When all the school age among us, from pre-kindergarten through graduate school, have returned or are about to return to the hallowed halls of academe. What makes this season a time to pop the Champagne cork for RVers is that suddenly the two-lane roads winding along the coastlines no longer resemble commute hours on Los Angeles freeways. Campground Full signs normally found in summer at state parks across the country have disappeared. Reservations for popular RV resorts and beach campgrounds need no longer be arranged three months in advance.
Yippee!! I love school. Well, at least for us retiree fulltimers, anyway. Probably not the same elation for moms filling backpacks with ever-increasing quantities of school supplies that schools don’t provide any more. But for those still on the road, we can now do all those neat things we haven’t been able to do for the last three months, i.e.: set the cruise control, drive at the speed limit, find parking spaces, find campsites without reservations, fine even good campsites without reservations, find campsites without neighbors on each side (week days, any way), enjoy peace and quiet after 10 o’clock at night, hear fewer barking dogs, and we notice a decrease in campfire size from the burning-of-Rome model surrounded by tipsy twenty-somethings shouting in LOUDER THAN NECESSARY voices.
I’m sure you can think of a lot more perks of the shoulder season, when summer’s heat becomes less oppressive, yet it’s too early to make a bee line for the desert where temps are still in the 90s. This is the season when we can safely stop making campground reservations and just wing it, choosing destinations with no planning other than a whim, turning left instead of right just to see what’s there, paging through the guide books for obscure destinations never before considered, and heading for some place mentioned by other RVers that you’ve never heard of. It is the season for exploration.
This is also the season when you can think camping according to altitude (not attitude), the RVers weather conditioning system–the higher you are, the cooler it will be, the lower, hotter. Start looking for those locations that sit mid-altitude, lower than the mountains, higher than the low deserts. Places that are too hot in summer, too cold in mid-winter. Locations, just to mention a few, like the upper elevations of the Sedona to Prescott area and the southeastern corner of Arizona, California’s Joshua Tree National Park, Great Basin National Park and the scattered patches of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest in northeastern Nevada, the St. George and Dixie National Forest of southwestern Utah, and most of New Mexico, and a lot more locations in other states (add yours below–if you want to reveal them).
It is the season for moving, ever so slowly south, like the turtle with its house on its back. No rush. Follow the weather. There are lots of places you wouldn’t see unless you slowed down and tried RVing on a whim.
And while you’re kicking back enjoying the pleasures of the season, visit my Healthy RV Lifestyle website for more RVing and destination tips and check out my ebooks, Snowbird Guide to Boondocking in the Southwestern Deserts, BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands, and 111 Ways to get the Biggest Bang from your RV Lifestyle Buck.